Twelve artists competed in Halifax’s Art Battle at the University Club at Dalhousie on Friday to show off their skills and compete for a spot in the provincial Art Battle in June.
Art Battle is an international competition where artists have 20 minutes to create a painting in front of a live audience. Halifax has been hosting this event for six years.
Each competition consists of two preliminary rounds followed by a final round. The two winners from each preliminary round paint in the final round to determine the winner of the night.
During each round, the audience is able to get up close with the artists and their art. People walk around the artists and vote on their favourite painting at the end of each round.
Samantha Bishop, a student at NSCAD University, competed in Friday’s event. It was her third time participating in an Art Battle.
This year, Bishop had a strategy to make it past the preliminary round.
“I’ve been practising by coming up with some ideas ahead of time and timing myself in my studio trying to see if I can get my idea fully rendered in that time,” she said.
Bishop came prepared with her iPod this year, too. She likes to listen to instrumental or classical music while she paints.
“I think the last time I wasn’t doing as well was because I wasn’t listening to music. You need to just focus on your own art because if you listen to the crowd you can get distracted,” she said.
The 23-year-old was a self-taught painter before she enrolled in NSCAD three years ago to study painting.
Bishop prefers to paint with very bright colours like teal and blue. For this event, she painted a black background with a mystical hand reaching through the canvas towards the audience. She says she wanted to challenge herself by trying to paint a realistic hand in a short amount of time.
Although Bishop didn’t make it past the first round, her painting sold for $85 during the silent auction at the end of the event.
“I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’m so surprised it was bid on even though I didn’t get past the first round,” she said.
Andre Samson, the organizer of Art Battle in Halifax, says the event is really about having fun and networking for artists.
“Really what artists get out of it for their craft is a chance to get themselves out of a private situation like their studio. It’s basically a chance for them to be sort of like a rock star,” he said.
Stacey Bieren won Friday’s event. The 42-year-old is a self-taught painter who began taking paint lessons at Expressions of Colour Art Studio only a year and a half ago.
Bieren didn’t expect to make it past the preliminary round and says she had to wing it for her second painting in the final round. That painting featured a mountain range surrounded by thick evergreen trees.
“The colours I grabbed were just typical landscape colours so I just started from the sky and worked my way down the canvas,” she said.
Bieren moves on to the provincial Art Battle in June. She will compete against the winners of seven similar competitions. The provincial winner then qualifies for a national Art Battle.